Black Alumnae at their 50th Reunion, class of 1968

Black Alumnae at their 50th Reunion, class of 1968

Marcia D. Lloyd, Bernicestine McLeod, Sandra L. Richards, and Sharon P. Wilkinson, Pembroke College class of 1968, entered campus in 1964, within weeks of the Civil Rights Act becoming law and within months of Martin Luther King Jr. earning the Nobel Peace Prize. The alumnae graduated under Brown University President Ray Heffner and Pembroke College Dean Rosemary Pierrel. Shortly before their graduation, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 demanded equal housing opportunities for all Americans.

This interview with Black alumnae of the Pembroke College class of 1968 documents the undergraduate experiences of Marcia D. Lloyd, Bernicestine McLeod, Sandra L. Richards, and Sharon P. Wilkinson, at their 50th reunion.

The interview begins with each interviewee introducing themselves, sharing some family background, and explaining what drew them to Pembroke. The group then moves on to share some of their earliest memories of their time on campus. Memories include meeting new friends, feeling confused and curious, and attempting to navigate interracial relationships. This sparks further conversation of race relations on campus where the alumnae discuss noticing cultural differences among the students such as unfamiliarity with panty hose and sherry hours. The interviewees briefly mention posture pictures but they do not share any specific memories of this incident.

Conversation soon turns back to race relations on campus and the alumnae recall living in the dormitories and often feeling excluded or uncertain of their relationships with their white roommates. They also fondly remember Soul Weekends when Black alumni from various Ivy League institutions would gather to forge solidarity. The interviewees also share stories of their search for identity, their paths to discovering feminism, and dating. Additionally, they each share their memories of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. including where they were when they heard the news and how it personally affected them. The interview closes with each interviewee describing the career paths they took after graduation and their appreciation for their Pembroke education.     

Please note that four Brown University students conducted a similar interview with Lloyd, McLeod, and Richards, in May 1993 at their 25th reunion. In addition, Roswell Johnson, the doctor mentioned in this interview for his willingness to prescribe birth control to students, donated an interview in 1989.

Recorded on May 25, 2018

Brown University, Alumnae Hall Room 205

Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc '65 Pembroke Center Archivist